Agriculture and Architecture: Taking the Country’s Side



Exhibition 27 February – 9 October 2020
Archizoom, SG building, EPFL

Opening lecture  26 February, 18:00
by Sébastien Marot, curator of the exhibition and professor at EPFL
with Matthieu Calame, agricultural engineer, expert in agricultural and food issues

Lecture and booklaunch 2 March, 18:30
Günther Vogt

Online lecture 24 April 2020, 17:30
Carolyn Steel in dialogue with Sebastien Marot

Online debate 29 April 2020, 17:30
Pratiques et perspectives pour la ville productive

Guided tour of the exhibition
Wednesday 23 September at 18:30
Wednesday 30 September at 18:30
Wednesday 7 October at 18:30

Joel Sternfeld, The Present Environmental Predicament, from the series American Prospects, 1987
Joel Sternfeld, “McLean, Virginia, December 1978”, from Joel Sternfeld, American Prospects, 1987.

The history of the city is intimately linked to that of the productive territories, it is a co-evolution.

Sébastien Marot, curator of the exhibition

Taking stock of the severe environmental predicament that now faces our world, this exhibition intends to ignite a reflection (both retrospective and pro-spective) on the strong link between the twin disciplines of agriculture and architecture, and on their growing divorce since the industrial revolution. It aims to learn from agricultural scientists, activists and designers who have consistently explored the hypothesis of a future of energy descent and its consequences, for the redesign and maintenance of living territories.

Taking the Country’s Side is an exhibition curated by Sébastien Marot, commissioned by the Lisbon Architecture Triennale for its 5th edition in 2019 and in co-production with CCB – Garagem Sul, in Lisbon. The exhibition is adapted by Archizoom for its presentation at EPFL, Lausanne. 

Consisting of 42 panels, a large chronological frieze, a compass of 4 scenarios and a series of videos, the exhibition content comes from two courses given by the philosopher Sébastien Marot at ENSAVT Paris-Est and EPFL on environmental history and the relationship between agriculture and architecture.

Sébastien Marot is a philosopher, professor of environmental history at the Ecole d’architecture de la ville et des territoires, Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design and at the Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.

He was part of the curatorial team of The Poetics of Reason (Lisbon Triennale 2019).

This exhibition explores the nexus of Agriculture and Architecture, two complementary practices of domestication which started to emerge, some 10 000 years ago, as the twin fairies of the Neolithic Revolution, and thereafter of the Anthropocene. Given the present environmental predicament, the hypothesis is that no sound reasoning can develop on the future of those two fields of concerns unless they are reconnected and fundamentally rethought in conjunction to each other.

When looking back at the past, it seems as if the urbanization of our planet is inevitable and is integral to history. Global population will most likely concentrate, as it does now, in larger and larger cities and metropolises. On the other hand, when one probes the future and the environmental issues that loom there, this same urbanization looks impossible. Such a paradoxical situation (both inevitable and impossible) is extremely conducive to schizophrenia, and confronts reason with an unbearable challenge.

In this situation, Taking the Country’s Side extends to architects, as well as to all those concerned by the current evolution of our living environments, an invitation to leave their metropolitan niche, their zones of professional comfort and smartness, and literally “take a walk on the wild side”. For some decades now, it so happens that several individuals and communities, committed to enacting alternatives to the deleterious processes of industrial agriculture and market economy (under the name of permaculture, social ecology, agroforestry, bioregionalism or agroecology), have evolved a treasure trove of ideas and principles that significantly challenge the core concepts of architecture and urbanism today.

EPFL Library presents a selection of books to extend the reflection on the themes developed in the exhibition.

Exhibition views